top of page

Lessons from CHEER. How to be "On Mat" in Your Life.

Have you seen the Netflix documentary Cheer? It’s an amazing docuseries that follows the Navarro competitive cheer squad as they as they work to win the national title. Even if you have not been able to watch it you have probably heard people talking about it because the show is freaking incredible.

Coach Monica along with team breakout stars Jerry, Gabi and La’Darius have been appearing on several talk shows since the series aired. People connect with their relentless determination and grit despite needing to work through injury and pain, and the daily mental toughness it takes to face the arduous routines and competition between teammates to be placed “on mat” for the competition.

When I watched this six-part series I could not believe what these kids had to go through to win a national championship, and I decided quickly that I wanted what they have.

Here are five lessons I’m bringing into my life and my client’s lives this week. Join me!

1. Give Yourself Jerry-level Mat Talk.

Jerry Harris is probably the most famous star of the show, but before explaining why I love him so much I need to explain what being “on mat” means.

Like any sports team, cheer teams need to have the exact number of athletes allowed to perform on the mat during the competition, as well as additional tumblers, flyers and basers who need to be ready to jump in if anyone gets injured or can’t perform on game day.

Being on mat is everything. If they aren’t on mat they can’t even get into the show area during the national competition which is held each year in Daytona, Florida. So, many of them work their entire lives preparing for a moment that they may never even be part of.

But, that didn’t deter Jerry.

Jerry wasn’t on mat for most of the show, but he was crucial to the team due to his amazing mat talk, meaning he cheered his teammates on from the side of the mat.

We need to be the Jerry in our own lives.

When applying mat talk to ourselves I’m not just talking about positive affirmations. I’m talking about cheering for yourself like you are hurling and twisting through the air and landing on top of that pyramid with toes pointed and arms straight out.

Psychologist Ethan Kross of the University of Michigan published a study in 2014 for the American Psychological Association proving that the pronouns we use to refer to ourselves during self-talk matter a great deal. Specifically, a subtle linguistic shift - switch from saying 'I' to your own name - changes the way we feel and behave.

Instead of saying “I have the determination it takes to lose ten more pounds,” I am now hearing myself yell, “Brooke has the determination of a warrior and can lose ten more pounds!”

Hear yourself yelling encouragement toward a goal or toward the self-image that you want to believe! Write down some statements that you KNOW to be true about yourself and then repeat them out loud to yourself every morning using your name.

2. Do Your Very Best, Even When Hurt.

One thing about the series that really moved me was the way these athletes play through pain. Especially the women. They are being thrown twenty feet in the air, and every once in a while nobody catches them. This is, I guess, an understood risk but they still allow themselves to be tossed.

After one very unfortunate incident when a women was not caught and just BOOM landed on the floor, one of the guys chastised the others by telling them they needed to catch the girls every-single-time! Right? I feel like that should already have been an unspoken rule. If it was me, I would have needed it to be an actual spoken rule. Why did he even have to say that?

The dropped woman was really hurt, went to the emergency room and couldn't cheer for several weeks. The startling thing was that she went back in for the final Daytona competition even though it was too early and the doctors advised against it. She was totally willing to face her fears and get back out there because she was not about to give up on her dream of being part of a winning team.

Most of us are more apt to get hurt emotionally rather than physically. It could be that we are angry with a coworker for trying to take control of a situation through passive aggression, or we feel self-conscious because of an inadvertent comment a friend made about our appearance. These little jabs in life can add up to eventually making us feel so bad about ourselves that it becomes difficult to face each day in beast mode ready to conquer that pyramid.

Don't quit on your dream or yourself. Adapt the same mental fierceness that athletes must have when they allow themselves to get thrown into the air without the promise of being caught.

3. Name Your Legacy.

Do what you are here to do and manifest the legacy that you want to leave behind.

The team in CHEER had a clear goal - to win Daytona - and we need our goals to be just as clear so name it and claim it! One way to do this is to create a personal mission statement the same way businesses do.

For instance, I went through the exercise of creating a mission statement for my business as a life coach and I repeat it to myself daily: "I am on a mission to help others transform physically, mentally and emotionally. I will leave my mark by helping them find their value and worth. Watching clients evolve, grow and change over time lights me up from the center of my chest and makes me happy."

That will be my legacy, I guarantee it, but you don't need a business to create your own mission statement. What do you want your legacy to be? Name it and claim it.

4. Flip that Bitch in the Air.

Watching CHEER made me think back to my favorite gymnast and success story of all time, Nadia Comăneci.

“I don’t run away from a challenge because I am afraid. Instead, I run toward it because the only way to escape fear is to trample it beneath your feet.” – Nadia Comăneci

Nadia Comaneci was the first gymnast to score a perfect 10 in an Olympic gymnastics event. Her performance at the 1976 Olympics redefined both the sport and audiences' expectations of future athletes, especially female.

Her's is an inspiring story, not only because she achieved this victory as an 86-pound, 14-year old Romanian child living under dictatorship, but also because it led to her defection to the United States with future International Gymnastics Hall of Fame coach Bela Karolyi who went on to lead many successful teams.

Oh yeah, and there was a love story, too. Nadia fell in love with and married American Olympic Champion Bart Conner who is the only American male gymnast to win gold medals at every level of national and international competition.

I'm still waiting for the movie to come out.

What these athletes all have in common is they are able to face their fears against incredible odds.

Fear is one of those innate emotions that put us at alert, a state that is still absolutely critical to our evolutionary survival, but researchers believe that most fears are learned. Go ahead and own those feelings but then quickly flip them around. There's no stopping you. You are not going to be stopped or beaten, and your will WILL be done.

Flip it in the air like you just don't care, and keep going for the gold.

5. Keep Going Until you Get it Right.

And then keep going until you can’t get it wrong. Those are the words of coach Monica as she describes how she approaches nationals each year. She made the team run through the routine 41 times during the week before the competition. It was hell, but it worked.

Practice really does make perfect. In 2015 researchers from the University of Cambridge and Plymouth University published a study showing that if a motor activity is repeated enough times, a motor memory of that task is developed. Monica knew this and used it to ensure her team was ready for Daytona.

What is your Daytona? What is your legacy? Whatever your goal, keep practicing it every day and remember to be mindful that you don't get stuck in the comfort zone. Nothing good happens there. Sure, we are safe, but we are not pushing ourselves or growing or increasing our confidence in ourselves.

Ladies, anything you put your mind to can be yours. I sincerely believe that for myself and for you.

You can crush any goal you set for yourself! You are capable!

You Can. You Will. You Must.

With Gratitude, Brooke

Looking for a professional Life Coach to Be

Your Jerry?

I'm here for you! I can help you with:

  • Creating a clear vision of what your priorities and where you need to implement new boundaries.

  • Acton steps to create new ways of ways of doing life on life’s terms.

  • Encouragement and inspiration to build trust and confidence.

  • Powerful coaching sessions to help stretch you past your limiting beliefs.

  • Strategic Sequences to help you let go of crippling fear that's been holding you back.

  • Small steps to help you speak your truth and feel lit up from within.


Want Help Quitting Sugar?

Join my Living Purposefully Private Facebook Group where I provide daily motivational messages, weekly wellness videos and blogs, online workshops and free life coaching advice. This week I'm starting a series on quitting sugar! Connect with a group of like-minded women who want to better themselves and watch as we support each other during our fun-filled journeys!

44 views0 comments